Cork to decide on controversial championship reform proposals
Resistance to playing some championship matches without inter-county players
Cork GAA area considering a number of proposals as they seek to revamp their club championship structures. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
Cork will decide on Tuesday night whether to take the radical step of organising championship matches without clubs’ inter-county players.
The proposal, which has generated a great deal of publicity, is one of three to go before the county committee for approval.
The ideas are the product of a review by the games workgroup of the Cork GAA strategic subcommittee and are intended to find a new format for the county championships from next year, as the current model will be used in 2019 for the final season of its four-year term.
There was consensus about the need for “more regular, meaningful and competitive” matches and also about the best means of realising this: a) definite club calendar, b) reduction in the number of teams at each level, c) group formats and d) straight relegation in all championships.
There wasn’t however any consensus about a) championship start dates (April or August or play through the summer, b) availability of county players, c) regrading into new championship and d) transitioning intermediate teams to junior level.
The three proposals essentially advocate playing championship matches in April and August or in August only or to spread a greater number of matches across the summer with the proviso that a club’s county players wouldn’t be able to play in all of them.
The speculation in the county is that the third proposal will not be accepted as there isn’t widespread support for cutting the link between clubs and their county players with some seeing it as the thin end of the wedge, a process that could ultimately see the long-term separation of club and county activities, as is widely perceived to have happened in rugby since the advent of professionalism.
There appears to be a leaning towards the first idea, which would establish a 12-club senior championship divided into three groups of four and with three matches, one in April and two in August.
The second proposal would see four three-team groups and two matches in August whereas the radical third approach would introduce two six-team groups with five championship fixtures played over the summer with full points awarded for the matches played with county players and half-points for the fixtures without them.
There is an acceptance in the county that there needs to be change but should the third option be accepted, it will be a major departure from the established ethos of club first.